Self-Portrait as a Fish


Two of the tires are gone. The car tilts like a dog’s head deaf to human wish, and in the dirty shadow of the car’s undercarriage a license plate of a sunset airbrushed and scratched, little lacerating horizons: out back a ping pong table is going, its sagging net trying to move as the wind passes through it. A cloudy Ziploc bag with a TV remote inside is screwed to a sheet of plywood half-warped and cracked against a tree. In the weeds a yellow jacket soaks in motor oil that’s drifted to one side of a pie-pan, which has a welt in the middle as if a child’s fist had made it: an oily bug shines like chrome as it scurries up a blade of grass and I burst it between my fingers. Long before today, in this house, I crawled under a wicker table searching for a pill stamped with a dove that wasn’t there. Fixed in the table’s center was a wide pane of glass and those around the table watched as if I were a fish beneath a glass-bottom boat, engine cut, no one making a sound.

JOHN EBERSOLE was born and raised in Florida. After completing his MFA in poetry at Columbia University, he moved to the Philadelphia area with his wife and daughter. He is host of New Books in Poetry, a podcast where poets and critics discuss their latest work, and poetry editor of The Philadelphia Review of Books. His most recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Southern Humanities Review, Bateau, Coldfront, HTMLGIANT, Octopus, and Western Humanities Review. Currently, he is assistant professor of English at Chestnut Hill College, where he also directs the writing center.